Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chicken Pita Pockets with Apple and Brie

This is a bit of a Blog-Lite today, not because this is enormously healthy for you or anything, but because my laptop is currently revolting and I'm borrowing (St.) Andy's. So I've thrown my technology-related frustration into cooking and emerged with these delicious little nuggets (Disclaimer: These are not nuggets.)

I began by marinating the chicken tenderloins in cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, onion powder, basil and sage. I covered the dish and let it sit for thirty minutes at room temperature. At this point, I preheated my oven to 350.

I then took a large skillet and heated a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high. Once the oil was hot (but not smoking) I added half the tenderloins--browning them for 5 minutes per side--and then reserved them to a plate to cool while I cooked the other batch.

Then I took a large mixing bowl and added my apples, onion, brie, raspberry vinaigrette, spinach and 3 tablespoons honey. Once the chicken had cooled, I chopped it into bite-size pieces and stirred these into the mixing bowl. I made sure to toss the mixture well, to evenly distribute all the little pieces.

I coated a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, then filled each pita with a healthy dollop of the chicken mixture, making sure each had a fair amount of cheese in strategic places.

I could fit about six pitas onto the baking sheet, though the mixture would have filled eight (I refrigerated the remainder.) I put the filled pitas into the oven and cooked them for 9-11 minutes--or until the cheese had melted.

Chicken Pita Pockets with Apple and Brie
1 lb. chicken tenderloins
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon sage
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 apples, chopped (I used Granny Smith, because I couldn't find sweet cooking apples)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cups spinach, chopped
8 oz brie, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette
4 pitas, halved

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mexican-Inspired Shepherd's Pie

The other day I asked my coworkers, "What should I make for dinner?" Considering most of them are cooks, I considered it a good panel. One suggested shepherd's pie, and while I love potatoes and cheese and all that goodness, I decided to substitute some more flavorful ingredients for the peas and the carrots, ultimately arriving at a kind-of Mexican-inspired version of the dish. +

I began by preheating the oven to 375. Then I set a large pot of salted water to boil. Once the water was rolling, I added my cubed potatoes and let them cook for 15-18 minutes.

Meanwhile I heated my cast-iron skillet to medium-high and added a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil was hot but not smoking, I added the chopped onion. I sauteed the onion until it had become golden and translucent, then I added the ground beef, Mojo marinade and Goya Sazón. I stirred the beef until it browned, and then added it as the first layer in the bottom of my 9x12 casserole dish. Then I reduced the heat to medium and added the corn to the skillet. Once the corn heated, I added it to the casserole dish as the second layer.

We drained the potatoes and then placed them in a medium bowl and added a 1/4 cup of cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Andy mashed the potato cubes with my handy new potato masher.

For the third layer, I added the roasted red peppers. then the sour cream, cilantro, and mashed potatoes. For the potatoes, I used the back of a large spoon to make sure the layer was spread evenly over the entire dish. Then I sprinkled the remainder of the grated cheese on top. 

After 20 minutes in the oven, we were greeted by a delicious cheesy potato meat extravaganza. Cheers to pie!

Mexican-Inspired Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6.

1 lb. ground beef
1 package Goya Sazón
1 tablespoon Mojo marinade
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup cheddar, freshly grated
3 red peppers, roasted
1 15-oz can of corn
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Burgers Stuffed with Spinach, Swiss, and Turkey Bacon

I've been trying to get away from other people's recipes for a while, but this is the first time I went completely off-book and I had a blast.

I had some ground turkey breast that I wanted to use, so the idea blossomed from there. I began by making a dressing, whisking together olive oil, honey, Dijon, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, French vinaigrette, salt and pepper.

Then I cooked up the turkey bacon until well-done and easily-crumbled. I reserved the drippings in the pan and transferred the bacon to a paper towel to blot up the grease.

For the burgers, I combined ground turkey, chopped onion, honey, garlic powder, onion powder, three tablespoons of vegetable oil, chopped almonds, salt and pepper. I formed the mixture into thin patties. On top of every other patty, I mounded chopped spinach, Swiss, and crumbled turkey bacon. I drizzled the dressing over the mixture and then placed another patty on top, crimping the edges in order to fully enclose it.

I heated up my skillet to medium-high and added a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil was hot but not smoking, I heaved my massive burger into the pan and cooked it for about three to four minutes each side.

I plated the burgers and reduced the heat on the pan to medium, then I sauteed some sliced onions for an additional topping.

I served the burger on a French bread bun and topped it with Swiss, sauteed onions, and more honey Dijon dressing. Boom, dinner!

Thoughts for next time:
-I might sauté the spinach with some chopped onion and garlic and let it wilt a little. 
-I would toast the French bread bun before I added my burger. 
-I wanted to use pancetta or proscuitto instead of turkey bacon, but I couldn't find it at the store. Turkey bacon was still delicious, though!

Turkey Burgers Stuffed with Spinach, Swiss, and Turkey Bacon
Serves 3.

For the burgers:
2 pounds ground turkey
One onion, halved: one half chopped, the other half sliced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup Swiss, grated
3 slices turkey bacon, crumbled
3 French bread buns

For the dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon French vinaigrette

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo

I'm from Louisiana, and it's not too often that we have stew or gumbo weather. But so delicious and aromatic are these dishes that sometimes you've just gotta turn down your air conditioner and curl up under a blanket as you enjoy the scent of your simmering dinner and later the hearty taste! Sacrifices must be made for proper sensory overload.

To start with, I chopped up one onion (or rather Andy chopped it) and combined it in the food processor with curry powder, chili powder, turmeric, ground mustard, minced garlic, ground ginger, cumin, white wine vinegar, and ground cloves and blended the ingredients until they were smooth.

Full disclosure: I forgot to chop up the chicken thighs before I coated them all with the spice mixture. So that had to happen post-coating and was rather messy and not at all noble. Chop up the chicken first! 1/2- to 1-inch pieces should do the trick. THEN throw them in a bowl and coat with your spice mixture. Now to return to the first-person narrative...

Andy chopped up the remaining onion. Then we heated up two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. I added the onions and sauteed them until they were golden (about 5-7 minutes.) Then I added in the chicken (and all of the spice mixture) and stirred it in with the onions for about 3 minutes.

Next came the can of diced tomatoes (including all the liquid) and a cinnamon stick. Once the sauce came to a boil, I covered the pot, reduced the heat to low, and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring on occasion.

After that, I removed the lid and added a tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds. I raised the heat to medium and let it simmer for another 8-10 minutes so the sauce would thicken.

Meanwhile I boiled up a pot of orzo on which to serve the stew. Basmati rice would be really delicious too.

Before serving, I fished out the cinnamon stick and seasoned the stew with salt and pepper. Then I stirred in my cilantro, ladled the vindaloo over bowls of orzo and curled up on the couch in front of a movie. Three cheers for makeshift stew weather!

Chicken Vindaloo
Serves 4.
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground mustard
6 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cinnamon stick
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Orzo or basmati rice or whatever you choose to serve it on!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Almond Vinaigrette

Fairly simple weeknight dinner!

I began by toasting the almonds. I just placed a heavy skillet over medium heat and then added the whole almonds and let them toast until they were a bit more golden (and passed the taste-test of being bloody delicious.)

I bagged the almonds in a Ziploc (Andy cleverly let the hot air out of the bag and then resealed it.) Then the almonds were crushed. In a small bowl, I stirred up olive oil, white wine vinegar, onion powder, thyme, water, Dijon,  honey, and the crushed almonds.

For the salmon, I heated my stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat and added a drizzle of olive oil (I will now officially dub this measurement a "ZZ Top" because that is what I visualize. Minus the Beard.)

I rubbed the salmon with salt, pepper, and paprika, then added it to the grill pan (skin-side-up, two fillets at a time.) I did another ZZ-top of Lea & Perrin's chicken marinade to the fillets and let 'em fryyyy (or grill or whatever it is that was happening. Let's just be professional and call it grilling.)

After a few minutes, I rotated the salmon 90 degrees to get those lovely cross-hatches. Then once the juices began to run clear, I flipped the fish and let them cook for four minutes more on the skin-side (adding a bit more chicken marinade as they cooked.)

I then plated the fillets and covered them with tented foil to keep them warm as I grilled the other two. Once everything was nicely done, I put two fillets on each plate and topped them with a hefty spoonful (this said "spoonyful" at first, which I nearly let lie) of almond vinaigrette.

For a side, I whipped up a salad of baby spinach, shredded carrots, sliced roma tomatoes, a sprinkle of parmesan, and some more of the same almond vinaigrette. Probably not the ideal accompaniment, but it worked in terms of "things I had in my fridge." Two things I've been learning with cooking are to a) actually have a side with your main dish and b) sometimes just work with what you've got instead of going to the store and making something ridiculous and exotic. The delicious can be found right in your very pantry!

Grilled Salmon
4 6-oz salmon fillets, skin-on
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Lea & Perrins Chicken Marinade
One ZZ Top of olive oil

Almond Vinaigrette
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp Dijon